Even the Pentagon considers the overturning of Roe v. Wade to be unjust, or at least disruptive, which forces "significant numbers" of service members into "unusual, extraordinary, hardship, or emergency circumstances," according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Which is why the Pentagon will now pay transportation expenses for any service member living in one of the 13 states where people must travel to another state get an abortion. They will also pay for time taken off work to receive across-state-line reproductive health care.
"Our Service members and their families are often required to travel or move to meet our staffing, operational, and training requirements. Such moves should not limit their access to reproductive health care," Austin said in a memo released yesterday.
"In my judgment, such effects qualify as unusual, extraordinary, hardship, or emergency circumstances for Service members and their dependents and will interfere with our ability to recruit, retain, and maintain the readiness of a highly qualified force," he wrote.
In a memo dated Thursday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed the department to adopt a suite of reproductive health care policies in response to the Supreme Court's June decision to end the federal right to abortion.
"The practical effect of the recent changes is that service members may be forced to travel greater distances, take more time off work and pay more out-of-pocket expenses to access reproductive health care, all of which have readiness, recruiting and retention implications for America's armed forces," said Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, speaking to reporters Thursday.
… [S]everal of the military's largest U.S. bases are located in states where abortion is now banned, including Fort Campbell, which straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border, and Fort Hood in Texas, both of which are home to tens of thousands of service members.
The memo also takes steps on behalf of health care providers who work for the Department of Defense. The Pentagon will reimburse fees for providers who seek to become licensed in other states in order to perform official duties, along with providing legal and other support to providers who face civil or criminal penalties for "appropriately performing their official duties."